A basic buttercream is made by mixing butter and powdered sugar until you get a smooth consistency. Flavors and extracts are then added depending on the type of cake you’re frosting. If you’re a baker, you probably already know the three most common buttercream recipes by heart: American Buttercream, Swiss Meringue Buttercream, and Italian Meringue Buttercream. But did you know that there are many other types of buttercream?
Even though they all have butter in common, they vary in sweetness and texture. Some are also more technical than others. But by mastering these different buttercream recipes, it gives you the ability to choose the perfect buttercream for your baked goods!
This is probably the most popular (and easiest) of all the buttercreams. If you’ve eaten a birthday cake before, then you’ve eaten American buttercream! It’s made with confectioner's sugar and butter, which makes it a little grainy and very sweet. If you are new to baking, then you can try your hand at American buttercream. It’s easy to spread and also great for use in piping decorations. It’s a great choice if you plan on making a colored or flavored buttercream, as it holds dark colors well.
Both of these meringue-based buttercreams are somewhat difficult to make. So if you’re new to baking, don’t start with these buttercreams! They’re light and creamy, and also suitable for piping and decoration.
Swiss Meringue buttercream is not as heavy or sweet as the American variety. It’s made by warming egg whites and sugar, and then adding butter after the mixture has cooled.
Italian Meringue buttercream is similar to the Swiss variety, except that it’s slightly firmer. It’s made by mixing sugar syrup into whipped egg whites, and adding flavoring or extracts.
You can expect a French buttercream to be rich, creamy, and just slightly sweet. Because of the high fat content, it’s best used for layers and not decoration. The amount of egg yolks and butter gives the buttercream a yellow tint, so it’s not the best choice if you want a crisp white buttercream. This buttercream takes some effort to make, so try with the less difficult recipes first!
If you want a buttercream that’s light, creamy, and not too sweet, then you should try a German buttercream. Because it does not have much flavor, it’s best to use as a complement to a rich cake. The base of the buttercream is a type of custard, so it will work as a filling, but not so much for decorating as it’s prone to melting.
This is also known as flour buttercream or boiled frosting. The taste and texture is similar to a cream cheese frosting you will find on red velvet or carrot cakes. It’s made by cooking flour, sugar, milk, and cream and then adding butter. It’s light and airy, and not that difficult to make, but you need to plan ahead as the ingredients need to warm up to room temperature.
What buttercream will you be making?